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Photo credit: Everyday Health Photo of Hernandez (dressed in all black) at The Watcha! Film Series in honor of Women’s History Month.

As Veganism grows in popularity, how has that impacted American society?

San Antonio, TX – Veganism, a lifestyle that involves avoiding the consumption and use of animal products, has become mainstream in American culture. According to Dr. Alexander Hutchison, Our Lady of the lake University (OLLU) assistant professor of kinesiology, “the vast majority of people who are going to be on a vegan diet are either going to do it for what they perceive being health benefits or moral objections to either killing animals or just animal husbandry in general.”

Even though this diet does not contain animal products, a vegan diet is just as healthy as any other diet. Having a diversified meal with different plant products is key.

According to Hutchison, veganism is a modern construct of the last 20 years, “The really strict vegan lifestyle, that was really not around in popular culture until – I don’t remember it until the ‘90s, and then moving forward from there.”

Vegan Menu

With greater demand for vegan menu options, the supply at fast-food restaurants has also increased. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) restaurants such as Burger King, White Castle, Freddy’s, and TGI Friday’s, have all introduced plant-based vegan-friendly menu options.

When Burger King launched the Impossible Whopper nationwide in 2019, they claimed it would taste similar to a real Whopper. Catherine Brooks, a University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Business Management student, has recently begun eating vegan food. In her opinion the Impossible Whopper does taste similar to real meat, “I’ve had my friends try it, my boyfriend try it, and they say it’s close if not you wouldn’t really be able to tell a difference.”

            Does vegan mean healthy?

One important distinction to keep in mind is that plant-based food does not always equal healthy food. Many fast food choices today are processed meals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines processed food as one that has undergone any changes to its natural state   Ultra-processed food is sometimes not considered real food because of how much it’s been modified.

According to Hutchison, “now you completely defeated the purpose of going to a vegan diet which is to eat raw foods. You’re now eating something that is vegan but it’s not healthy cause you’ve now taken beets and processed them into something that’s not food anymore.”

Brooks agrees but states, “it’s not really even healthy for you but I think the main point of meats substitutes is it’s supposed to be a substitute, it’s not supposed to be something that you’re eating to promote your health.”

Although meals might not be healthier, the presence of plant-based foods emerging in the fast-food world is promising.

As more restaurants begin to cater to vegan-friendly food, will you change your diet?

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